Date on Honors Thesis




Examining Committee Member

Eleanor Rivera, PhD, Co-advisor

Examining Committee Member

Olga Koulisis, PhD, Co-advisor

Examining Committee Member

Christine Lindner, PhD, Committee Member


This paper shall demonstrate that at the turn of the 19th century, the advertising strategies used in children's advertisements published in The Youth’s Companion reflected the rise of childhood consumerism and formation of the ideology of childhood innocence. The years 1890 to 1910 were characterized as years of reform and the period is most often recognized for its role in the rise of consumerism in part due to the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution worked as a catalyst to force children into a new role in society. The mass availability of disposable income led to a decrease in the need for child labor, making it easy and sensible for compulsory education to be enforced. A decrease in a demand for labor led to children obtaining more leisure time which parents felt the need to fill with varying forms of entertainment. The children's entertainment industry rapidly grew, creating intense competition among advertisers. By viewing these individual advertisements across a time period, trends featuring the target audience can be tracked with ease. By focusing on the increased sentiment of reading and expansion in new products presented to children, the advertisements reflect the formation of childhood innocence and the role of the child consumer. Altering the view not only of the definition of a child but the role of the child as a consumer, the advertisements in The Youth’s Companion perpetuated the societal changes shaping views of childhood.